Tiny Celebration


Today, this blog got its 50th like πŸ™‚ I just want to take a sec out to say that since this blog is almost entirely about myself and my experiences, each and every like, view, comment and follow is like a little affirmation that what I’m saying is worth taking the time to say.

So, thank you, everyone who’s liked, commented and followed this blog over the last couple of years – it means a lot to me and I hope you’re getting as much out of reading this as I get out of writing it πŸ™‚

Cute Bats

Cute bats for every follower πŸ™‚

Quote Me Happy


January 3rd Daily Post:

Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?

There are a few quotes which I find I never tire of, and there are a few reasons.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was an incredibly inspiring man. He’s one of a few people who have shown beyond all others that depression only makes the going tough, and not completely impossible. He guided the country through one of the toughest periods of the 20th century while fighting an internal struggle on an equal scale.

He also coined my favourite metaphor for depression, and the name for this blog – “The Big Black Dog”. It’s powerful and evocative, especially if you get the chance to read I Had a Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone.

“A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor” – English Proverb

This is something I’ve quoted once before on this blog. It was in an image, as these things often are. Despite my considerable Google-Fu I’ve not been able to find an original source for the saying, beyond the ambiguous “English Proverb”.

The thing I really like about it is the reminder that whatever has happened to me in the past, today, now, this is where I am. It’s something I really need to bear in mind sometimes, or I’d easily get stuck, bogged down by heavy yesterdays.

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe – Carl Sagan

I use this quote all over the internet, as a tagline, or a summary, or whatever else may call for a short but important statement. It says a different thing to different people at different times. There’s a great interpretation of the Carl Sagan quote at that link but to me it means something simpler; don’t walk before you can run. Build your tower from the ground up.

There are a lot of other quotes which I find inspiring and interesting – what are your favourites? Let me know, you might give me one I’ve never heard before.

Back From the Nearly Living


So earlier in the week, I linked a post from my plinky archive on a whim. I love plinky, the format is ideal for me (small, directed pieces) and the prompt in question (sea or sky and why?) ended up with quite a nice little answer. Putting it into the blog only took a click of a button.

The response I got was pretty surprising; likes, follows and page views sprung from no-where and hopped, all bunny-eyed over my internet. New followers aren’t something I thought such a dusty, rarely updated trifle would get, especially from such a little snippet of a post!

Startled Owl

I was this surprised.

So I want to take a second to thank everyone who came and read what I’d written. I use writing these days as a way to examine and structure my own thoughts on a topic, which makes it all quite internal. I didn’t think it would appeal to people who don’t know me personally.

In the last month I have (to borrow a clichΓ©) risen from the ashes. I spent exactly two years unemployed, to the day, and those two years changed me. Of course, I was consumed with self-loathing for most of that time, to the point where, alongside my love I began to find disgust in how I felt for my boyfriend simply for his insistence that he wasn’t going anywhere.

It’s only recently though, since I started the job I got via an apprenticeship scheme, that I realised how insular, lazy and selfish I’d become. I was resentful of the world for the sheer audacity it displayed in its continuing to exist. Incredulity when people acted as though I was still valid. It was as though I’d regressed to the age of sixteen and dyed my hair black. Maybe my next move would have been carving words into my arm with a compass.

I’m not back to being the person I was before the Big Black Dog joined the team. I doubt I ever will be that person again; how could I be? I feel as though I am beginning to fit in to the life of the adult I have created.

Clinging on to life.

It had been so long since I smiled like this guy.

Even beyond that, there are times when I realise I still have similar logs burning as I did when I felt like my smile could carry the world. At the job interview, a question, or perhaps a statement from the guy interviewing me (now my boss and director of the company) almost seemed to unbind a ribbon, allowing it to fly in the wind again.

We talked about continued learning and the flaws in a traditional boss/employee paradigm (a risky subject for a job interview I know) and I knew the gleam I could see in his eyes; it was the one which had just returned to my own.

Walking along the spine (a partially-covered walkway on Lancaster university campus) in the rain and I’m cold, tired and hungry. A woman around the same age as me stops to put down her shopping bags. One of them is beginning to split and she is flexing her hands in a way that tells me the bags are heavy.

I offer to help and she politely declines but I insist that I’m in no hurry. We walk back to her flat and she says it’s almost like a sign. “I stopped believing in angels,” she said “but maybe I should start again.” When we arrive at her building, she invites me inside for a drink but it’s my turn to politely decline. At that moment there was nothing in the world I could have wanted.

As I made my way down the stairs I called up and behind to her, ” I just hope that one day when you get the chance you pass on the favour.” I hope she does. The gleam in my eyes must have been like a floodlight.

Inspire

Too true.

The world is not perfect. I am not perfect. But I have started trying again.

In essence, what I really want to say is thank you. Thank you to anyone who reads this. Thanks for using some of such a precious resource (time, what else?) to humour me. Thank you, everyone who read and enjoyed my last post, and to those who read but didn’t enjoy.

Most of all, thank you to the people who are still here. Storms are hard to weather, but I think the clouds are dispersing. I think I can see the sun again.

An Animal Analogy.


Most of the time, I feel like this:

I'm this small.

I am this small and insignificant compared to other people.

Someday though, I want to stop being a turtle, and be like this:

Now I'm a tiger.

I want to live without a worry and have a tiger smile.

Going crazy. In the face.


So. As of Monday, I will officially be working two jobs in an effort to claw myself out of my overdraft. The one in the Weatherspoon’s kitchen, and then one 13 hours a week selling shoes in Shoe Zone in Lancaster. I am psyched to start the new job – I can do this job. I worked in Stead and Simpson’s for a year while I was in sixthform. The two shops are owned by the same overall company. The pay is less than in Weatherspoon’s, but it’s going to be less work. Working in ‘Spoons is, for lack of a better word, harrowing. Being on your feet for stints of up to 10 hours in one go just isn’t fun. And yeah, I know that work is work and it isn’t meant to be fun, but having a job that stresses me out as much as the ‘Spoon’s one wasn’t healthy. So getting to do much less of it is awesome.

The tricky part is going to be juggling what shifts I get where, so I’m not working a ridiculous combination of hours. If both sets of management could sort rotas out enough in advance it’d be great, but alas, I am yet to know when I’ll be working in spoons next week. If only I could get set hours, standard each week.

Hopefully, this means that I’ll be bringing enough money home to get out of my overdraft, and climb slowly into the positive numbers. Each penny I save brings me closer to achieving what I outlined in my last post.

I’m still looking for and applying for jobs, too. Ideally I’d have two part time retail jobs. The Body Shop are hiring at the moment – I’d love to be able to have that job and the Shoe Zone one and tell ‘Spoon’s where they can stick it. So I’m still keeping my beady eye open on the look out to see what I can spot. Anyone knowing of anything going, let me know!

In other news, things with Chris and me are going well. We’ve become ‘Facebook Official’ now, though we were officially a couple long before we got round to changing our statuses on FB. He’s away at Download until Monday, and I miss him. I see this as a good sign.

Been really spending a lot of time with friends from RocSoc recently, it’s great. Having two separate sets of friends and then seeing them merge as I invite them all to various things, like the BBQ we had a few weeks ago. I love seeing new friendships form amongst people that I like. The overlap of people is growing and it pleases me.

Time for a Jammie Dodger. Bye, folks.

Stepping off the edge.


I’m sure a lot of you will have heard me ramble on about this before, but I want to start my own business. For a long time it’s what I’ve wanted to do. When I was younger I looked up to , my wonderful, hardworking and dedicated mother. She took a huge risk and picked up a failing business (a Newsagent in a small, seaside village), dusted it off and turned it into her livelihood for several years. The shop has been closed for a while now, the recession biting at the heels of a stumbling business, already trying to deal with other problems, such as competition and people.

Now, I don’t want to follow directly in her footsteps. I don’t want to become the proprietor of a newsagent or sweetshop in a village. I want to run my own successful internet cafe. It would be more than just an internet cafe – it would specialize in LAN gaming and online gaming. Ideally there’d be the opportunity for me to run Friday Night Magic there, too. But I don’t want a small, dark, grotty basement. I want a shop where non-gamers would also feel comfortable coming and browsing the internet with a cup of coffee for an hour.

My idea came from visiting Swansea one day when I was in 6th form and missing a train home. I needed something to do for two hours to kill time before the next train home, and so I went into Crossfire. They have 56 computers there, 15 for web browsing and 41 for gaming. They are all networked together and they all have super-fast broadband.

I want to spread this wonderful idea. I want to bring it to Lancaster. I can almost see it – casual internet cafe/coffee shop in the day, hardcore gaming lair in the night.

There is already somewhere in Lancaster that offers this service, but I’ll give anyone who can name the place and the location 50 points. They operate in a small, slightly underground and very unappealing premises. I went there last year so I could play WoW alongside someone (damn campus rooms having only one internet connection) and they told me that their computers weren’t equipped to deal with WoW and their internet connection couldn’t deal with it either. Competition, of a sorts, but I’m convinced I could do it better.

The main hurdle I have is money. Of course it is – so many people would do so much if money wasn’t a worry. Premises, utilities, equipment – it’s all expensive. Also, technical knowledge – I don’t know the first thing about computer networks. The thing is, this idea has been plaguing me for four years now. I can’t make it go away. I can hide it in a cupboard for a while, but eventually it’ll find the handle on the inside and be out there again, nagging and niggling at me. So much so, in fact, that I’ve bought a ‘Start your own business’ book, and am writing this LJ post for people to comment on my idea.

I want, maybe more than anything, to be in Lancaster with the people that I care about and love. I’m having doubts about university – I’ve already made two goes at it, why should the third be any more successful? I want to do something that interests me, that makes me feel like I’m giving a service to satisfied customers. I want to get to know my regular customers and I want to be in control of something Big. Something Important (to me at least).

At the moment, just musings and ideas, but ones that won’t go and sit on the shelf like obedient ideas – ones that really want playing with and exploring and testing. Stay tuned to hear more in the future.

Living is easy with eyes closed


So, hope. It’s a bitch. This may seem like a strange statement but if I didn’t have hope, life would be easy. I could lay down and give up, and there’d be nothing there to stop me. As it is, there is something stopping me. That annoying little voice in the back of my head telling me that one day, my life will be as I want it. One day I will have the life I want.

But it seems sometimes like I’ll never get there. I’ll never meet the guy I’m supposed to be with, I’ll never get the job that’ll make me happy. I’ll never complete a degree. I’ll never make it. I really feel like it’s inconceivable for me to ever achieve any of the things that I want out of life. But I can’t stop hoping for them to happen. I even have short term hopes.

It’s really very frustrating. I hope so much that I’ll eventually get all the things that I believe will make my life good – a man who makes me smile, a job that is interesting and friends who love me – but I do not have a single ounce of belief that it’ll ever happen. I hope but don’t believe.

Do you see the difference, Live Journal? And can you tell me what will help?

First of many…?


I have had something recently that I’ve not had for a very long time. I had a Good Weekend. Not all of it was good, some of it was in fact awful, but for the most part, it was Good. The Prozac has been making me feel woozy but the side effects are much less severe than with the citalopram.

Friday night saw Sam run a one-shot of All Flesh Must Be Eaten. He decided to do this at about half eight, so there was zombie related hilarity with Sam, Simon, Dan and Stu until about 2.30am. It wasn’t a great role-playing experience for me, I couldn’t get into character at all, but the OOC banter was fantastic.

Saturday was of course the LURPS Hog Roast. Brilliant stuff, delicious food and great company. I had some bad times there though, mostly because I made a joke in bad taste and managed to convince myself that it had made everyone who heard it hate me, so I wandered off and spent an hour sitting around on the floor on my own before anyone came to find me. But I did get to smear Jelly on Connor’s face, which was funny.

Saturday night was Rock It To The Lune, which was awesome. I’ve not been out dancing in such a long time that I’d forgotten how good it feels, especially in the company of people who don’t care that I look like I’m having a seizure on the dance floor. I danced and sung and had a brilliant time. I even won the raffle (kinda). Then Simon, Stu, John and I went on to Hustle, where we stayed for about eight minutes before coming back to my place to play Magic: The Gathering.

Today, I was supposed to be playing in the game Mr. Slee is running over Easter. However, I had a massive panic this morning that my current state of fail would ruin the game for all the other players and spoil all of the GM’s hard work. So, I bailed out and went to learn how to play Go in the Sun, which was great.

After Go, I hung out with Adam for a bit, played some MtG and lost some chess. Not known Adam for very long but had a great time, it’s nice to find more people who are easy to hang out with. After that, Justin hosted a MtG cube draft, which was fun. Justin, Simon, Stu, Girly Mike, Adam and myself played and it was ace fun.

And that brings us to now. I’m doing my utmost to keep happy, which is why I’ve written about the weekend, to remind myself of how good it was. It feels like I’m having a come-down, which I suppose in a way I am. But hopefully I’ll be ok.

Seems that recently something’s been happening to me that hasn’t happened since November 2008. I think I’m getting a crush on someone. It’s a very weird thing and I’m not sure what to do with it. Leave it alone for now, I think, and poke it more when I feel brave.

Anyway, I think I’m going to eat some chocolate raisins and play Civilization 4. And no, I won’t tell you who it is.

Prozac, and the other Seven Deadly Sins.


So, as you may have noticed, my treatment for depression hasn’t been going anywhere so far. I’ve had ups and downs, but mostly downs. So today, my doctor has given me Prozac. He called it Fluoxetine, so I didn’t realise what it actually was until I came home and googled it. He’s also putting my name forward for CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy) on the NHS. I assume that this means St Leonard’s Gate

So, Prozac. Wikipedia tells me ‘Fluoxetine was shown to be effective for depression in 6-week long double-blind controlled trials where it also alleviated anxiety and improved sleep.’ This would be brilliant if it worked. Depression, anxiety and poor sleep are all big problems for me. If it works like it claims to, this could really be the break that I need to be able to get through the CBT and take something useful from it.

Wikipedia goes on to say ‘The recent research suggests that a significant part of the resistance to the SSRIs paroxetine (Paxil) and citalopram (Celexa) can be explained by the genetic variation of Pgp transporter. Paroxetine and citalopram, which are Pgp substrates, are actively transported from the brain by this protein. Fluoxetine is not a substrate of Pgp, and thus a switch from paroxetine or citalopram to fluoxetine may be beneficial to the non-responders’

What brilliant news. I’m all hopeful!

However, this week I’m not allowed to take anything at all, since I need the Citalopram to ‘wash out’ of my system before I can start taking the new stuff. So please bare with me if I seem more hopeless and rubbishy than usual.

I love you all for putting up with me.

Winning a battle, losing a war.


Depression is a very long term illness. It never occurred to me in November that in five months time I would still be in the same place as I started. I thought that a few weeks on the medication and I would be tip top again. I’d be back to being Alice, happy and cheerful and bouncy.
But still, some nights I can’t sleep, eat, think or move. I have so much pain inside, pain that I can do nothing about. It’s so hard to describe this kind of pain – if you don’t know how it feels then I can’t explain it to you. The only thing you can think of doing is turning the pain that is impossible to deal with into something you CAN deal with. In the case of most people, this involves self-harm. Physical pain is something you can deal with, something you can fix with painkillers or rest or whatever – the main thing is that you can do something about it in the short term.
Last night, I felt like I was going to suffocate from the weight of sadness, isolation and guilt weighing down on me. The pain was unbearable and all I wanted to do was cut my self; arms, legs, face, anything to distract my self from the pain.

But I didn’t.

I held up. I rode out the pain and came out of it OK. Shaken, crying, nauseous. But unscathed.

I am proud. One battle is a big step to winning the war.